Religion Department

Academics | Religion


The religion program at Ripon examines the experience and the beliefs about God in major world faiths, past and present. Special emphasis is given to the Jewish and Christian traditions because of their great importance for Western culture.

Introductory courses are geared toward providing an understanding of how the founders and first followers of major religions experienced God and how to interpret the faith expressions in their scriptures – e.g. the Torah and the New Testament.

Intermediate courses focus on the evolution of theological and ethical concepts and practices of the Judeo-Christian tradition over time and how they shaped and were shaped by cultural values and structures with which they interacted.

Advanced courses provide an analysis of how religion and ethics affect contemporary society – both individuals seeking a meaningful moral framework for their personal lives, and wider political and economic forces shaping national and international society.



Rabbi David F. Brusin

David William Scott

Brian Smith


Courses & Requirements

Course Guide: Religion



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


Career Tracks

Religion, as part of a liberal arts and sciences program, is a degree that can lead to careers in any field.

The department provides excellent preparation for students interested in pursuing graduate school in many disciplines including religion, theology, ministry, philosophy, psychology, education, and law among others. Recent alumni are enrolled in graduate-level programs at Marquette University, Texas A&M University, Northwestern University, and Bowling Green State University.

Recent graduates of our program work for…

  • Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Eli Lilly & Company
  • First Congregational Church
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Immanuel Lutheran School
  • Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
  • Target Corporation
  • US Bank

Job titles of recent graduates include…

  • Therapist/Case Manager
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Tennis Professional
  • French Legal Translator & Interpreter
  • Associate Minister
  • Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries
  • Mental Health Case Manager
  • Teacher
  • Attorney
  • Director of Congregational Learning


Unique Opportunities


Students wishing a first-hand experience in Religion or in ethics can take a supervised field work course. This could involve either part-time employment or participant observation in local church services or organizations (for those interested in some form of religious ministry as a career), or in local professional organizations and meetings, e.g., law, business, medicine, journalism, politics or government (for those interested in contemporary ethical challenges in these professions).

International study

Religion majors may take advantage of the many off-campus programs available at Ripon College. Students have studied in Europe, Costa Rica and China.

Domestic Study

Students have the opportunity to take part in the cultural experience available in major U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

Double majors and minors

Because Religion is closely related to other courses in the humanities and the social sciences, students often combine religion with another academic discipline to form a double major or double minor. These other areas have included philosophy, English, anthropology, politics and government, psychology, music and chemistry.


Students of Religion at Ripon College have the opportunity to travel and present at academic conferences. For instance, in 2014 Professor Brian Smith traveled with three Ripon College seniors to the American Academy of Religion’s Midwest Regional Conference at Ohio Northern University where the three students presented papers:

LaTia Rodgers ‘14, a religion and English major, presented “Buddhism and the Environment,” a senior seminar project examining the resources Buddhism offers for greater environmental awareness.

Elizabeth Blum ’14, a global studies and politics and government major, contributed “Social Justice in the Pulpit: A Small Town Study.” During her research, Blum did interviews with all active clergy in the city of Ripon, asking if, and how, they preach about issues of social justice. Her work was supported by a summer 2012 grant from the Ethical Leadership program.

Amanda Gesiorski ’14, a history and anthropology major, presented “Women with Habits: Two Life Histories of Catholic Sisters.” Gesiorski gathered in-depth interviews with retired Catholic nuns in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, reflecting on their lives. The work was based on a paper she wrote in an independent study class in Anthropology.

Attendees at the panels in which the three students papers were presented engaged them in stimulating conversations and praised the students for their solid academic work.